This is part one of a series of articles on how to build an effective website! These days it’s common knowledge you need a website. Everyone has a website, from small local businesses to nation chains. When people want to know more about you and your organization, the first thing they will do is look up online. Your first impression is very important! But you have a choice; you can be just another website, a postage stamp sized island in a massive sea of more-of-the-same, or it can actually get people visiting, and it can have those visitors interacting with you. All too often a company’s website exists simply because “we should have a website” and there is no strategy for ROI or engagement. Whether you’re planning to build a website or redesign an existing site, the articles in this series will guide you through the process of making your site effective and stand out of the crowd. Here some preliminary steps you need to decide on before you start building anything:
Choose a Platform
When you build a site you need to decide what platform to build it on. Of course, in the early days of web-design, all that was necessary to publish a website was a text editor and somewhere to upload the files. But websites now should be built in a Content Management System (CMS) so that the people updating the content of the site don't have to be professional web-designers. There are many, many CMS systems available, ranging in prices and features. You should pick one that has quality support and a robust infrastructure, to scale with your business and minimize downtime. I recommend Kentico for their high quality infrastructure and solid reputation. Bit-Wizard’s CEO, Vince Mayfield, has a great article about choosing a CMS wisely. You also need to find a place to host your site that is reliable and can handle any amount of traffic. I can’t recommend Microsoft’s Azure highly enough. Even Apple uses Azure, it’s that good.
Design for Mobile First
With the advent of smart phones, web-design has had to make a drastic change. Increasingly, higher percentages of all hits to a website come from mobile browsers because most people will see a URL and look it up on their phone rather than wait until they get back to a computer. These devices have much smaller screens so elements in a web page need to be resized and rearranged to maintain readability and aesthetic. The best practice these days is to design your site for mobile first and then expand the layout up for larger screens. I’ll cover mobile design in a latter article.
Understand Your Demographic
This is so important, because it should dictate the decisions you make when designing your website. “Whom are we trying to reach” should be at the forefront of your mind with every step of the design process. Don’t just do things because other people are doing them, and don’t just design things because they’re cool looking or trending. Be intentional about all the aspects of your web-presence to connect with the people you want to connect with. Trying to make a site that appeals to everyone is the same as making one that appeals to no-one. Know your tribe, and build a site for them.
In this series I’ll be looking at four specific areas to focus on, and some details for each of those areas:
- Producing Quality Content
- Making it Usable
- Extending Your Reach
- Optimizing Visual Design
So stay tuned to this series to get a great game-plan for your site design or overhaul.
Here at Bit-Wizards we specialize in effective web-design, and can evaluate your current web-presence and can give you a custom made report on how to improve your site.